Indian equity mutual funds fail to capitalise on Jan rally, outlook muted
Funds overall returned 0.45 percent during a month in which India's 30-share BSE index rose 2.4 percent, up for a third consecutive month on the back of continued strong foreign net inflows and government reform measures such as allowing diesel prices to rise.
Muted gains in financials particularly weighed on funds. Fund managers had bet big on financials leading up to the Reserve Bank of India policy review on Jan. 29, but a cautious stance on further monetary easing surprised investors even as the central bank cut interest rates.
Investment managers are more cautious this month, ahead of India's 2013/14 federal budget to be unveiled on Feb. 28. The government is under pressure to rein in spending and subsidies to meet its fiscal deficit targets and avoid a ratings downgrade.
"It's a very difficult call for the fund managers," said R.K. Gupta, managing director at Taurus Mutual Fund.
"If the subsidy burdens, budgetary deficit rise, FII selling cannot be ruled out," he added referring to foreign institutional investors.
(For a table of mutual fund returns, click )
The BSE's banking sub-index rose 1.6 percent in January, dampening the overall performance of funds as the exposure to financials had reached 26.5 percent of total assets held by diversified stock funds as of the end of December, according to separate data from Morningstar India.
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